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What's A Good Journal For A Traveller?



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rumbleroar

Hey everybody! I'm a new fountain pen user, and I was wondering what are some good journals for me to use? It will be used as a diary, and I travel a lot. Specifically, I will be spending two months in China in the near future (yay!), and need a good journal for my Lamy Safari XF. I typically either use Diamine Sherwood or Waterman Black, if that helps at all. I'm looking for something not too expensive, though I am willing to spend up to 25$. I prefer something that looks nice but not girly, is medium sized, and maybe has a hardcover? Also, I tend to fold the cover back, and my last journal fell apart because of this, so does anyone know of any ones with really strong bindings, because it may be abused a tad.

 

Finally (this is a lot, I know, but bear with me), any travelling tips? I'll have one suitcase and one carry on, so I really need to know how to properly store this stuff. Can I write on the plane with my Lamy and not have to worry about it exploding? Should I use a ballpoint (cringe) just for the ride? Thank you so much!

 

PS I already love this website.

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I like Rhodia spiral-bound notebooks when I'm traveling. They have big, sturdy spirals so they can be turned back easily without ripping pages out. They're covers are soft but very durable.

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First things first, AVPM reference, yes?

 

I use a Miquelrius flexible graph notebook, as grids are my preference. At my Barnes and Noble, they come in black or red for 9.99$. They look nice but not flashy. It's not a hardback but I abuse mine and have taken it around the world a few times.

 

I have used fountain pens in airplane cabins before, absentmindedly rather than as an attempt to be brave with it, but there were no explosions. (I'm sure I've filled out forms with my Kaweco Sport, to name one.) Today's cabins are much less problematic when it comes to air pressure than they used to be, but the wisdom here, I've heard, is to travel with pens that are either completely full or completely empty. And yes, sadly, I'd recommend taking a Jetstream ballpoint or maybe a gel pen along, too.

 

When I travel, pens go in my carry-on (I'm not going to be separated from my babies!) while ink goes in my checked luggage, wrapped in bubble wrap and in a sturdy ziploc bag, which I then put in a larger bag :P

 

Sample ink vials also travel really well and give you some options.

 

And do have fun.

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I like the hardbound 5.5X8 Pro Art Sketchbooks. They are around $7 on Amazon. The paper is fountain pen friendly without any feathering or bleed-through. It's a good bang for your buck. These also come in spiral format but I have not tried them.

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Working backwards from the end of your post, don't worry about how to pack these beyond the obvious stuff that you can probably see for yourself, like protecting things from theft, water damage, etc. If this trip is going to be the TOAL* type, and the journaling is to cover that, I'd say it might be worth investing in a waterproof sack to hold your journal (waterproof=/= water-resistant - waterproof sacks aren't just made of plastic, they are also seamless or with water-proofed seams and the opening rolls up several times to prevent water from getting in if the Whole Thing gets dunked). Other than that, FPs and journals are pretty hardy gear - you'll have more to worry about if you're packing any electronics than you will about your pen and your journal.

 

About the journal, now normally I tend to recommend a selection of items or a type of product, but this time I'm going to make an exception and recommend a specific product, because I really think it's just perfectly suited to all the criteria you set out :) It's this journal, from Barnes and Noble ($20 for the journal, so well within your budget, and a measly five bucks apiece for subsequent refills).

 

Honestly, I thoroughly recommend this thing - I've had it for a few months now, and I think I won't budge from it for a while yet. Even though I haven't taken it on a trip yet, I do lead a pretty nomadic lifestyle in the sense that I'm often working away from home, setting up in random coffee shops and libraries, or bumming around the city for hours at a time, so portable gear is a big thing with me. Here's all the stuff I just love about it that I think makes it a perfect travel companion:

 

- it has built in pen holders! And good ones, not the crappy super-narrow pen loops like those on planners etc. Yes, you read that right: that flap over the journal isn't just for show, it actually has two slots on the inside to hold your pens. And yes, I checked for you, a Safari fits :) It is a bit of a squeeze, mind, but that's actually a good thing since the journal cover is made of leather, which loosens some with use - you wouldn't have wanted it to get too loose! Additionally, you can even carry a third pen on the journal if you use a stick on pen loop on the refill itself, because you can position the flap wherever you want along the width of the cover.

- The cover attaches to the refill the old-school way, with sewn-on flaps, which means you get two nice pockets to stash loose papers you pick up along the way. (of course, you can always augment those with adhesive pockets on your journal refill itself. You could even make a hideaway pocket for spare cash or whatever by sticking an adhesive pocket to the outside of the refill, then slipping the cover back on - the cover not only hides your stuff, it also holds it in place better).

- The cover closes securely - both on the long side (with the flap) and the top and bottom (with the wraparound tie). This means that even if you stuff papers in randomly, they're unlikely to slip out.

- The refill has a ribbon bookmark, and not one of those cheap stringy ones either, but a nice wide one, the end neatly finished so it won't fray. Okay, that's something you can rig yourself without too much hassle, but it's nice that it's already there.

- The leather tie can be tied in multiple ways, and can be used to hang accessories as well, such as a charm you picked up. It's also easy to replace if it gets worn, or if you want to replace it to customize the journal.

- It's a lovely chocolate brown leather that has all the positive qualities you get with black re: disguising dirt, but without the stuffy, too-formal vibe you get with plain black.

- The refill is perfectly lined. It's not too narrow, which makes for neater writing even when you're in a hurry and your handwriting has degenerated into a complete scrawl, and the lines don't go all the way to the edges up and down and left to right, which leaves room for addenda on the side and top of existing text.

- The overall size is perfect - big enough to make writing in it comfortable, but still small enough to carry around everywhere, and it will even fit some coat pockets (eg those on duffle coats or some winter coats).

- The refills open flat :cloud9:

- The actual texture or quality of the paper is the only thing I would quibble about, because it's too absorbent for me - I get no shading, some show-through, and a slight bit of feathering occasionally. BUT, and this is a big but, I'm using a Medium nib, and a pretty juicy one at that. With you using an XF nib, this is all completely moot.

 

In short, a great notebook for writing, but so much more than that besides: a good looking cover that holds a ton more stuff than just said notebook and is highly customizable for both looks and function :) Me, I lurrve this thing :wub:

 

_______________________

*A TOAL is a Trip Of A Lifetime, which is exactly what you'd imagine: a trip one look backs on for their entire lifetime :) Based on the stated length of two months, the distance you're going (US --> China), and your level of excitement, I reckon this one qualifies ;)

I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage.

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